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Court in Strasbourg considers Tymoshenko Case

On Tuesday 28 August the European Court of Human Rights held a public hearing on the admissibility and merits in the case of Tymoshenko v. Ukraine concerning complaints related to the former Prime Minister and opposition leader’s detention

On Tuesday 28 August the European Court of Human Rights held a public hearing on the admissibility and merits in the case of Tymoshenko v. Ukraine concerning complaints related to the detention of the former Ukrainian Prime Minister.

The Court explains that Ms Tymoshenko’s application was lodged on 10 August 2011 and that it decided on 14 December 2011 to give priority to the case in view of the serious and sensitive nature of the allegations raised.

During the hearing, Ms Tymoshenko’s lawyers asserted that Ukraine’s government had concocted the case against her.  The new Representative for the Government, Nazar Kulchytskyy denied that there was any political motive and asserted that her complaints about prison conditions and injuries were unfounded.

The Court considered testimony pertaining to prison cell conditions, prisoner privacy, abuse and political retribution.  

Associated Press reports that “ Since the initial charges, the government has continued to build allegations against Tymoshenko: She went on trial in June on charges of evading several million dollars in taxes 15 years ago, and is the subject of a slew of other criminal investigations, including a murder case.

In April, Tymoshenko went on a hunger strike in jail, accusing prison guards of punching her in the stomach and twisting her limbs.

Since then, Western concern over her arrest has grown, and European leaders boycotted Euro 2012 soccer matches this summer to protest her detention.”

The following is from the Court’s summary.

On 30 December 2011 Ms Tymoshenko was transferred to the Kachanivska Correctional Colony in Kharkiv to serve her prison sentence. On 14 March 2012 she applied to the Court for an interim measure, asking to be transferred to an appropriate medical institution in view of her health. On 15 March 2012 the Court requested that the Ukrainian Government, under Rule 391 of its Rules of Court, ensure Ms Tymoshenko’s adequate medical treatment in an appropriate institutionalised setting. On 4 April 2012 she was offered a transfer to the Central Clinical Hospital of the State Railway (“Kharkiv hospital”). German doctors from the Charité Hospital then examined her from 13 to 15 April 2012 and also checked the quality of the hospital suggested.

On 20 April 2012 the Court invited the Government to inform the Court what steps had been taken to comply with the terms of the interim measure applied on 15 March 2012. On the same day at 11 p.m. Ms Tymoshenko was transferred to the Kharkiv hospital.

According to the applicant, she objected to the transfer and force was used, allegedly causing bruising to her stomach and arms. She refused medical treatment because of what she contended was the inappropriateness of that hospital for her needs. She declared a hunger strike in protest against the prison guard’s violence and her forced transfer. On 22 April 2012 Ms Tymoshenko was returned to prison. On the next day she filed a complaint with the Kharkiv Prosecutor Office about her forced transfer to the hospital. The prosecutor found no reason for opening a criminal case and decided not to investigate the case further.

On 25 April 2012 the Ukrainian (outgoing) Ombudsperson Nina Karpachova  made a public statement on Ms Tymoshenko’s health.

On 9 May 2012 Ms Tymoshenko was again transferred to the Kharkiv hospital where she started medical treatment under the supervision of a German neurologist. On the same day she ended her 20-day hunger strike. On 12 May 2012 her legal representative stated that she had been under permanent surveillance even while undergoing medical procedures and that the prison authorities had published the full report on her medical history.

On 21 May 2012 the Government made a formal request to the Court to lift the interim measure. They stated, among other things, that Ms Tymoshenko was receiving adequate treatment for her complaints in an appropriate institutionalized setting. On 31 May 2012 the Court decided to lift the interim measure as it found that the Government had complied with it. At the same time, the Court refused to grant a second Rule 39 request submitted by Ms Tymoshenko on 25 April 2012 in which she asked the Court to require the Government to allow her to be treated in the Charité Hospital in Germany. The Court noted in particular that Ms Tymoshenko was currently receiving treatment in the Kharkiv hospital, and that she was being supervised by an outside neurologist. The Court also requested the Ukrainian Government to submit further observations on the admissibility and merits of the case including the issues of the forced transfer to the hospital in the night of 20 April 2012 and the permanent surveillance


The applicant alleges, in particular: that her detention was politically motivated; that there has been no judicial review of the lawfulness of her detention in Kyiv SIZO no. 13; that her detention conditions are inadequate, with no medical care provided for her numerous health problems; and, that she was under round-the-clock surveillance in Kharkiv hospital.

She relies principally on Article 3 (prohibition of degrading treatment or punishment),  Article 5 (right to liberty and security), Article 8 (right to private life) and Article 18 (limitation on use of restrictions on rights) of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The ruling on Ms Tymoshenko’s cassation appeal is due on Wednesday.

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